The Bowes Museum > About > Our History > The Building

The Building


John and Joséphine decided to build a museum to house their extensive collections of European fine and decorative art.  They chose Barnard Castle as the nearest town to Streatlam Castle, John’s main residence in England.  The French architect Jules Pellechet, who had worked for them in France, designed the building, although alterations were made later. The French style architecture is thought to be based on that of the town hall in Le Havre.

  
A local architect and builder, J.E. Watson of Newcastle and Joseph Kyle, were employed to carry through the construction work.  Many of the workers, and some of the suppliers, were local people.

 

Joséphine’s death in 1874, less than five years after she laid the foundation stone, coupled with John’s financial problems, meant that the Museum was still not complete when John died in 1885.  Responsibility for finishing the work fell to the Trustees appointed under the wills of Joséphine and John. The Museum opened to the public in 1892.

The Bowes Museum is closed!


All of us at The Bowes Museum are really sad to announce that we have had to close until Wednesday 2 December in line with new national restrictions.

As a result, we have been forced to cancel events that were due to take place during this time. If you have a ticket for an event or entry to the Museum before this date, you will be contacted to arrange a refund or to make an alternative booking. All Christmas activities including the Christmas Market and Santa’s Grotto are expected to go ahead as planned.

Happily, we are still able to welcome walkers and cyclists to the Park and Gardens as usual, including the Playground area, and cars will be admitted between 10.00 and 4.00 daily.

We have so loved welcoming people into the building again, safely enjoying our displays, eating in Café Bowes and browsing in our shop, so please in the meantime keep safe and we hope to see you back again soon.

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